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Whether dealing with hyperpigmentation and dark spots from sun damage or genetic age spots, there are some skin lightening do's and don'ts that can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some of our top tips to maximize results, minimize downsides and enhance effectiveness:

DO use sunscreen.  Daily use of a stable, broad-spectrum sunscreen like [Link Removed]  should be part of any skin lightening regimen.  Skin lightening treatments disrupt the production of melanin which causes skin cells to darken, but a sunscreen is needed to protect the skin from UV rays, which trigger the production of more melanin.  An effective sunscreen may be the most important component in any skin lightening routine.

DON'T  think that results are permanent.  Skin hyperpigmentation is a long-term battle that involves treatment as well as maintenance.

DO use a combination of products.  Any successful skin lightening regimen should involve [Link Removed]  to reverse damage and help cells communicate more like young, undamaged ones will all help jumpstart results. Skin lightening treatments attack the problem in different ways so combining a few is not a bad idea.

DON'T use all those products on the same day, though! With the exception of the sunscreen, your skin lightener, exfoliant and retinoid products should be used on separate nights. For example, try applying the skin lightener and retinoid on alternate nights. Once or twice a week, use an [Link Removed]  instead to exfoliate.  Remember: more is not necessarily better!  It's wiser to introduce new products slowly into your routine while giving your skin a chance to adjust.

DO use any skin lightening product in a cyclic fashion to give your skin a break.  In order to reduce the potential for side effects, skin care professionals may recommend that you use skin lighteners in a cyclic fashion – four months on and two months off – then repeat cycle.

DON'T  use skin lightening products with the intention of changing skin tone or shade. Many skin lightening agents are potent. Use them for what they were meant for: targeted spots and patches.

DO give it time to work.  Considering the time it takes for skin turnover (28 days is the norm, even longer as we age), don't expect to see results after one week.  Skin lightening in an ongoing process, not an overnight transformation.

When dealing with hyperpigmentation, following these do's and don'ts of skin lightening can help us all get closer to our goals.

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed].

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